It's difficult to overstate the seriousness of the plague of domestic violence. It's always been a problem in Oklahoma. And with the pandemic putting couples together more often than they're accustomed, the situation in many households has deteriorated even further.
This state has been known for its depressing set of "statistics" putting it atop several lists. Teen pregnancy, smoking, cancer and heart disease - you name the problem, Oklahoma has embraced it as almost a badge of honor. According to the Violence Policy Center, Oklahoma ranked eighth in the U.S. for women who are murdered by men.
Help In Crisis has been combatting domestic violence since the early '80s. Officials and volunteers know they will never eradicate it, but education and awareness can perhaps mitigate some of it. And HIC provides a save haven for abused women and children in its shelter, which was built a couple of decades ago through a capital campaign.
Laura Kuester is always on the job, but since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, she's augmenting her mission with a high-profile fundraising venture and a stepped-up education campaign. That's important, because funding has suffered through the COVID-19 pandemic. And a key federal grant has been cut by 30 percent.
Next month, Kuester will be backpacking through the Ozark National Forest for 200 miles. That dovetails National Take a Hike Day, which is Nov. 17. Participants will be setting up funding pages and joining her on various segments of the journey. One especially noteworthy participant will be Jamie Bone, daughter of HIC founding Executive Director Pam Moore. (Jamie is also the daughter of Jim Bone, a former Daily Press editor.)
This year's theme for the awareness month is, "Everyone Knows Someone," and statistics indicate just that. As Kuester herself points out: "If the statistics are 1 in 4 women, think about 1 in 4 women in your family. Oftentimes it's quiet and there's a lot of guilt and shame to it."
And she would also say that domestic violence - which Moore has taken to calling "domestic terrorism" as she continues her eternal work against the scourge - doesn't always involve physical assault. Mental anguish, and the deliberate cutting off of victims from their family and friends, are the way many abusers torture their victims. The abusers demean their victims and convince them they are stupid, unattractive, and that no one else but the abusers themselves will care about them.
The emotional trauma cannot be overestimated, nor can the seriousness of domestic terrorism, which also has a nightmarish impact upon any children caught in the middle. Another issue that cannot be overestimated is the need for funds to augment the exceptional work HIC has long been doing, under the guidance of three talented, hard-working and caring directors.
If you can help with a contribution, however modest, do it. Thanks to the awful tax cut of 2017 that did nothing to help middle-class families, you might not be able to take a deduction - unless your donations and health care expenses hit the $30,000 mark. But you will feel better knowing you have helped one of the best causes around.